Akarua Wines & Kitchen (265 Arrowtown – Lake Hayes Road, Arrowtown)
Previously known as Walnut Cottage, Akarua is a cutesy little cottage located just out of Arrowtown, not much further than Millbrook. After pulling into the gravel carpark, we made our way to the entrance across the sun-streamed patio and outdoor tables. We were welcomed at the door and seated immediately, despite not having a booking. Given that it was winter, we were torn whether to sit inside or out, but the sun-streamed patio really was too good to turn down.
As we sat, our waitress told us about the daily specials and we were all super impressed to hear that all of the fish dishes were actually different types of fish (not just the stock standard ‘tarakihi’ – which is delicious mind you). I found the roasted parsnip and pear soup just too delicious sounding to resist, and I was stoked to see the big bowl of fried ciabatta that came out for the table for dunking. The meals were all very well balanced, delicate and absolutely beautiful to look at.
The prices were definitely above average, but it was definitely a ‘pay for what you get for’ type lunch because the food really was outstanding. I had a warming glass of mulled wine that was extremely aromatic.
Around the back of the restaurant (by the toilets) is a massive sandpit which seemed like a really good way to keep the kids entertained while the adults enjoy a longer lunch. I would definitely recommend this spot!
Dumplings are one of those foods that I think have become particularly trendy in the last few years; ask many people about their thoughts on dumplings 10 years ago and lots probably wouldn’t even know what you were talking about. There is a huge spectrum for the quality of dumplings; it is so easy to go out and buy horrendous ones (from where you’d expect to be good) and then stumble across some of the best dumplings you’ve ever had at some gross looking Chinese takeaway shop. I have discovered my local dumpling shop in Wellington (Dumpling’d – so delicious, conveniently close to work and at a great price too!) but sometimes it can be really nice to just make them yourself – that way you can always guarantee their taste (although maybe not always the presentation).
Collect for the dipping sauce
- 1/4 c soy sauce
- 1 t minced garlic
- 1 t brown sugar
- 2 t lemon juice
- 1 t sesame oil
- pinch chili flakes
Collect for the filling
- 250 g chicken thigh, chopped finely
- 1/4 c fresh chives
- 1 spring onion, chopped
- 1 T lemongrass
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 t finely grated ginger
- 1 T soy sauce
- zest of 1 lemon/lime
Collect to serve
- dumpling wrappers
- 1 T rice bran oil
- 1/4 c water
- toasted sesame seeds
- For the dipping sauce, combine ingredients and set aside.
- For the dumplings, chop up the chicken (2 – 3 times as chunky as chicken mince would be). Add rest of filling.
- Hold dumpling wrapper, spoon 1/2 t mixture onto the wrapper. Fold into semi-circle. Pinch them and crumple the edges. Place on a clean damp tea-towel to stop it from sticking.
- Heat in a large frying pan. Add dumplings. Add water. Cover with lid/foil. Simmer for 5 – 8 minutes.
This meal takes a little longer than most of the other recipes on my blog, but it presents really beautiful and is incredibly tasty and fresh. Slow cooking the pork means that it stays tender and can soak up the flavours of the dish. As you may have guessed by now, I love cooking with pork (probably due to a lack of beef eating) and any chance to try my hand at crackling is welcome.
Collect for the pork
- 600 g pork (shoulder or leg is ideal, but any cut will do, cut into chunks
- 2 t Chinese five-space
- 1 t brown sugar
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/4 t black pepper
- 1.5 T oil
- 2 T lemongrass, finely chopped
- 3 x garlic, finely sliced
- 3 T soy sauce
- 2 c water
- 2 t brown sugar
Collect for the salad
- 1 packet of udon noodles
- 2 c mung bean sprouts
- lebanese cucumber (otherwise normal is fine), with the seeds removed, cut into match sticks
- 1 c coriander
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1/3 c chopped peanuts
- 2 large chillies (optional)
- lime, quartered
- Combine the pork with the five spice, first measure of brown sugar, salt and pepper. Coat thoroughly and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Heat oil. Fry lemongrass until fragrant (less than a minute), add pork and garlic and cook until the pork is browned.
- Add soy sauce, water and brown sugar. Simmer, over and cook for approximately 1 hour (or until the pork is tender). Don’t let the liquid reduce too much; if it begins to look like it is running out, add some more water, sugar and soy sauce.
- Once the pork is cooked, prepare the noodles. Pour boiling water over the noodles for five minutes (or until soft). Drain the water and add the mung beans to the noodles.
- Divide the noodles between the bowls. Top with pork and salad.
Growing up, my favourite restaurant was Lonestar. Every single time we went I ordered the same thing – along with my mum and brother; we always ordered the ribs. The waitress would bring a bowl of hot water (for washing your fingers in) which would always get my excited that my meal was about to come, but the water always cooled down significantly by time our meals actually arrived. The meal was always massive, with chunky crunchy potatoes, a delicious coleslaw and sticky pork ribs. Definitely enough for the next day!
I thought it was time to give this delicious meal a go myself, and while I don’t promise that they are as good as Lonestar’s, they are still pretty darn good! They are a pretty cheap cut of meat, and actually quite a quick meal to prepare – so they go a treat at dinner parties and the like; just make sure there is a water bowl of some kind on hand.
- pork ribs
- 2 onions, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1.5 c beef stock
- 1 c pineapple juice
- 1 T butter
- dash of lemon juice
- 3 T tomato paste
- 2 T brownsugar
- 2 T soy sauce
- 2 T vinegar (preferably malt)
- 3 t smoked paprika
- 2 t mustard power
- 2 t Worcestershire sauce
- pinch of chilli
- 160°C bake.
- Sear the ribs in a hot pan with oil before transferring them to an oven tray.
- Make the sauce by cooking the onion and garlic. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.
- Pour the sauce over the ribs. Cover the ribs with aluminium foil and put in the oven for 90 minutes.
- Separate the ribs from the sauce. Reduce the sauce in a hot pan until it becomes thick and sticky. This might take 20 minutes.
- Pour over the ribs and put back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
These tasty delights are very easy to whip up and are perfect for those last minute guests. I usually have carrots on hand, and so the only thing I need to make sure I have on hand are bran and walnuts (which is a given if I’ve made muesli in recent weeks).
- 2 c flour
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1 t ground cinnamon
- 1 c bran
- 1/2 c chopped walnuts
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 c milk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 T canola oil
- 200°C bake. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
- Combine flour, baking soda, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Stir in walnut, carrot and bran. Make a well in the centre.
- Combine the milk, egg and oil in a jug. Pour into well.
- Stir until just combined.
- Spoon batter into muffin holes until 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes and transfer onto a wire rack.
Winter is definitely a season that can get you down. But one thing that always picks me is some good ol’ homemade soup. It’s hard to go past pumpkin soup, which is so filling, warming and just plain delicious. It’s also so cheap to make – so long as you have a pumpkin on hand, I find that you can basically throw in any of the previous weeks vegetables into the pot and it just adds to the substance and nutritional value.
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 T turmeric
- 1 T curry powder
- 1 T cumin
- 1 T ground coriander
- 1 pumpkin
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 kumara / potato
- any other vegetable you want, but you may need to add more stock if the liquid looks a little low
- 5 c chicken stock
- 1 tin coconut milk
- coriander, garnish
- In a large pot, add the onion, garlic and spices and cook until fragrant.
- Add the diced pumpkin and other vegetables into the pot.
- Add the chicken stock and once boiling put a lid on the pot and simmer.
- Once all of the vegetables are soft, leave the pot to cool.
- Once cool, whizz with a stick until smooth.
- Reheat and add the coconut milk and extra seasoning.
- Serve with cheesy toast and garnish with coriander.
On our property at home we have an abundance of feijoa trees. So many, that it gets to the point that unless you are stewing and freezing them on a regular basis, a lot of them end up rotting and mushy under the trees outside. It can be hard to keep on top of them all, so it’s fun to have a variety of different recipes which incorporate feijoas up your sleeve; that way it will never get boring! These yummy feijoa crepes make a delicious weekend brunch; paired with bacon they were absolutely scrumptious!
- 1/2 c flour
- 1/4 t ground ginger
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- a pinch of salt
- 3/4 c milk
- 1 T honey
- 2 T butter
- 8 feijoas
- 2 t brown sugar (I used muscovado)
- Sift flour, cinnamon and ginger into a bowl. Whisk in eggs, salt and about 3 T milk, stirring until there are no lumps.
- Slowly add the rest of the milk and the honey (melt it slightly if it is too solid) making sure the batter remains smooth.
- Rest the batter for about 15 minutes.
- Heat the pan to a medium temperature, add some butter and swirl around the pan.
- Add about 1/4 c of the crepe batter to the pan, and tilt the pan so taht the batter is very thing.
- Cook for 1 or 2 minutes and then flip and cook the other side. Once cooked, put the crepes on a plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.
- To cook the feijoas, add the feijoas plus some butter into a small pot and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and continue cooking for a few mintues until caramelised.
- Spoon the feijoas onto the crepes and roll them up.
- Serve with icecream or cream, and bacon.
It can be so exciting coming up with variations to your traditional soup flavours. Gone are the days where the choices were pumpkin soup, tomato soup and mushroom soup – now there are always countless flavours to choose from. It’s great making soup too – although it seems time-consuming, it’s actually really easy when you can just chuck a bunch of stuff in a pot and leave it to simmer for a few hours! It’s a super cost-efficient meal as well; and I always like to make a big batch and then freeze a few containers worth so that it gives me some meals in the future.
- 1 T oil
- 1 c bacon
- 3 garlic
- 2 leeks
- 1 cauliflower
- 500 g potatoes
- 6 c chicken stock
- 1/4 c cream
- Heat oil and add the bacon. Once cooked, remove and leave to rest on a paper towel.
- Add garlic and leek to the same pan (don’t wash it out, the bacon juices give it flavour) and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add cauliflower, potatoes and stock. Partially cover.
- Increase heat to a boil and then simmer for about 35 minutes. Cool.
- Blend soup until smooth.
- Return to heat and add the bacon and cream.
This recipe is an absolute winner. I kid you not, every time it goes down a treat. It is super important to not overcook it; in fact, if you were planning on serving it as a dessert with icecream, I would actually under cook it slightly so that it stays gooey and runny on the inside. Definitely let it cool before you slice it, otherwise it will ooze everywhere and be hard to pick up later on.
- 100 g butter
- 1 c sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 t baking powder
- 3/4 c flour
- 1/2 c cocoa
- 100 g white chocolate
- 100 g dark chocolate
- icing sugar to dust (optional)
- 180°C fan bake, grease a baking tin and line the bottom with baking paper.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.
- Remove from the heat, and whisk in the sugar.
- Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa into the mixture, add the white and dark chocolate.
- Mix until combined – but be gentle.
- Pour into tin.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes; there should be a tiny amount of mixture still left on the skewer.
One of the things I love most is waking up to the smell of freshly cooked muffins; now that I no longer live at home, if I want that smell I have to bake them myself. Which I don’t have a problem with, because it means I get to choose the flavour! Banana and chocolate chip is a firm favourite of mine; it’s an excuse to buy too many bananas at the farmers market each week. Sometimes when I’m feeling healthier I will opt for walnuts instead of chocolate, but most of the time, the chocolate ones are exactly what I’m after!
- 3 bananas, ripe and mashed
- 1/2 c sugar
- 100 g melted butter
- 1 egg
- 2 T milk
- 1.5 c flour
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 t baking powder
- 1.5 c chocolate chunks
- 180°C bake, grease the muffin tin (12 should be perfect).
- In a bowl, add the banana, sugar, butter, egg and milk – stir.
- Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda – just, to combine.
- Add chocolate.
- Cook for about twenty minutes, or until golden on top.